Saturday 01 October 2016

Friday Five: Using Social and Mobile for Good

We live in a digital world. So much of our everyday lives revolve around the social space, whether for work, play, or both. Many of our jobs revolve around Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks. When we aren’t working, we’re blogging or we are glued to our mobile phones texting or using apps like Instagram and Path. While being glued to our gadget of choice may be second nature to many of us, how often do we think about using our social and mobile presence for good? I don’t mean “good” in the Slacktivism sense, where we do things just to “feel good.”  Slacktivism is a concept combining the words slacker and activist, and essentially, describes acts where a person puts in minimal effort towards a cause, only to “feel” as though they are helping the greater good.

Chances are you have a sizable, engaged community of friends and family. Why not use your social influence to drum up support or awareness for a variety of philanthropic efforts? This weekend, consider using your social communities and/or mobile device for the larger good. Here are five ways to use your social and mobile experience to help others:

  1. Leverage Mobile Texting
  2. It’s a simple concept: organizations ask people to donate a set amount of money by texting a specific number. What’s interesting about text donations is the power of spreading the word in-person. The Pew Internet and American Life Project’s recently released study of mobile donors found that more than 40% of donors reached out to encourage an acquaintance to also make a donation. Social media doesn’t have the same impact on mobile giving though; Pew’s “Real Time Charitable Giving” report showed that only one in five donors took action after social media prompts. Only 10% surveyed said email played a role.

    Security and trust are often issues that may concern donors – that’s where organizations like the Mobile Giving Foundation come into play. The Mobile Giving Foundation teamed with the Better Business Bureau to create the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation “in order to help grow the mobile giving platform, strengthen mobile giving industry standards and assure donor confidence.” This is a huge step in the right direction; partnering business with mobile technology.

  3. Gaming
  4. Calling all gamers! Check out a former NY Times columnist’s plans for a FarmVille-esque social game. Nicholas Kristof’s game is very similar to FarmVille, except it will enable players to make micro-donations to humanitarian efforts, global crisis relief, and other causes. The game is in collaboration with Games for Change, a company that creates games specifically for social impact. The unnamed social game is scheduled to launch in late 2012.

  5. Mobile Apps
  6. With the rise of mobile apps, non-profits have a new opportunity and medium to raise awareness about social issues. Take charity:water for example. The brand was one of the first to launch an Instagram account and uses the platform to raise awareness for what the company is doing. Paull Young, the Director of Digital at charity:water recommends Instagram for NGOs, saying:

    “The most important opportunity NGOs have with the social web is to transparently connect donors and supporters with the work they are doing – Instagram can do this through beautiful visuals.”

    Other non-profits launch their own mobile apps in order to best raise awareness and funding for social good. One Days Wages’ iPhone app allows users to calculate their daily wage and then give a one-time donation to a charity, including HEAL Africa, Haiti Relief Rebuild Fund, and Not for Sale.

  7. Online Communities/Hubs
  8. The Internet is full of online communities where users come together for a shared purpose and sense of belonging. There are also several social networks and applications used as social awareness hubs. Take Causes.com for example. The site allows you to find a cause that interests you, join that specific cause-focused community, and give money through the platform.

    Change.org and Care2.com are two additional sites that allow users to start a petition for a cause in order to then mobilize support. Similar to causes.com, users can browse causes by topic and sign petitions for change. These platforms are just two examples of platforms that create a central hub for donors to gain access to hundreds of charities.

  9. Social Loans
  10. If you want to take social good past awareness and into action, consider platforms like Kiva.org. The platform allows you to make a loan (minimum of $25) for a specific cause, project or small business, get updates on the status of the loan and then get paid back from the borrower. The money goes into your account, known as Kiva Credit, allowing you to fund another loan and continue the social good process. Concerned that you won’t get paid back? Think again, because Kiva’s repayment rate is 98.94%.

    You can also join Kiva’s lender community, which brings individual lenders together to count each loan they make towards an overall team impact. Teams collaborate on a cause, ranging from economic poverty to GLBT awareness and everything in between. The community aspect of Kiva allows users to feel more connected to the microbusiness they supported and come together with other socially-conscious individuals for the larger good.

Check out idealist and VolunteerMatch for additional opportunities to take your social good efforts offline. These sites allow users to search, save, and share volunteer opportunities with different organizations around the world. We all know you spend time on Facebook, Instagram, and your mobile device; carve out five minutes of time to use the same platforms to help someone.

Are you more likely to use your mobile device or your social networks to give back?

Image credit: kdonovan_gaddy

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